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Enduro Mountain Biking: What's the Deal?

by Nathan Cline

Enduro Mountain BikingI admit that as a mid-westerner, I had no clue about enduro mountain biking. I love off-road bike racing. Yet, all of the races that I have ever done have been cross country (XC) or cyclocross (CX) race format. So what is enduro? I see lots of bikes and products coming out with the label of enduro, “What’s the deal with that?”

I asked an Iowa friend, Adam Prosise, who has been living and racing in Colorado for a few years to explain a few things to us, and Adam  was up for it.

Adam Prosise enduro mounting biking by Kyle ArauzFirst, enduro is a form of mountain bike racing that has a number of timed downhill trail sections, as well as a number of uphill transfer sections which are not timed but may have time limits to finish. The winner will have the lowest combined times on the timed sections. Normally the races are done in one day and have 3–5 timed sections. These sections are usually very technical and mostly downhill with some small uphills.

Enduro mountain biking is not cross country, which is heavy on the cardio. Nor is it downhill racing which is all about descending and has no uphill portions. Enduro combines these disciplines into a fun format that rewards riders with overall technical skills.

Adam is a super skilled rider with a BMX and XC background. He is an expert enduro racer who rolls with the fun loving Team Rudeboy, an enduro mountain bike team sponsored by Jinji Cycles out of Denver, Colorado (where they have mountains).

Enduro Mountain Biking Interview with Adam

Nathan Cline: What was the draw that brought you into enduro racing?

Adam Prosise: When I started racing enduro, it was a “new” exciting format that seemed to be growing like crazy in Colorado. A couple friends raced the first Big Mountain Enduro series, and between the locations and technical level of riding I knew I had to do it. Call me lazy, but I was tired of trying to keep up with all the fit road bikers racing XC and cyclocross, so I ditched it completely. Cross races were getting crazy expensive for what they were and the XC stuff was so sanitized it was boring. I’m a technical rider so I wanted to race something that was challenging, new, and out of the norm.

NC: Do I need a completely different set of gear for enduro mountain biking?

Team RudeboyAP: Depends what you want out of it. Enduro is just mountain biking in a different timing format. You’ll need typical trail repair kit (e.g., tube, co2/pump, quick link, multi-tool, etc.). You don’t need anything “enduro” specific to compete. (Although, full face helmets are required on some stages.)

For what it’s worth, I raced the Sante Fe Enduro on a hardtail. I was the only one at the race on a hardtail, and I had a respectful finish racing in the pro category. Half shell helmet, skinsuit, knee pads, and carbon XC shoes are my normal “kit." It's not quite the typical “enduro” style you would see in a magazines, that is unless you follow Team Rudeboy. As for the bike, any trail bike with good tires will suffice. Races are judged by overall time, so if you race with some lightweight tires and rip one, you can pretty much kiss your race goodbye.

NC: What makes a good enduro racer successful?

AP: Stop thinking about it so much. Go out there and have a good time. I know a lot of racers who put a lot of effort into doing well at races. They push themselves, crash, get a flat, break their bike, etc., and they are out of the race. Being consistent is key, so if you find yourself getting flats consistently, having mechanicals, or crashing out… work on those first. Doesn’t matter how fast you are if you can’t finish. We call it “racing 80%.”

NC: What matters most cardio or balls?

Adam Prosise in the airAP: The joke is… uphills aren’t timed, so it doesn’t matter!

But really, everything matters. The misconception of enduro is “it’s all downhill!” That’s not even close to being true. Most stages have climbs or flat sections that require an all-out sprint to be competitive. Some transfer climbs can take 2+ hours and they are followed by 15+ minute sprint descents. It takes a lot of balls, but cardio is very important also.

Focus is key, and if you don’t have cardio, your focus will diminish and your likelihood of crashing increases. The Big Mountain Enduro finals in Crested Butte this year challenged everything. It was planned to be a three-day race with 65 miles of trail, 13,700 feet of ascent, and 19,000 feet of descent. Let that sink in. Day one was cancelled due to rain. It rained the next two days, but the race went on. Many people said it was the hardest race they have ever done, mentally, and physically.


The moniker “all-mountain” is often associated with enduro racing mostly from its beginnings in everyday mountain rides that climbed and then raced back down mountains. As a result, it’s not something we get a chance to experience here in Iowa—I think our biggest vertical drop is 500 feet. I do totally see the draw to this type of event and I would love to hone my descending skills and someday perhaps join in an enduro mountain biking event. But for now, I’ll watch and be glad that mountain biking has found a new genre of racing that is new, exciting, and drawing in riders.

Big thanks to Adam for opening up to us about enduro. He is an skilled competitor who knows how to have fun and shred.

I hope you check out the links associated with this article.

Here's a funny film staring Adam and his Team Rudeboy teammates:

Photo credits: Images supplied by Adam. Photo of Adam with his wheels on the ground by Kyle Arauz.

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Katherine is our Content Champion. She has done triathlons in the past, and now focuses on mountain biking and long-distance gravel riding. She still has a soft spot in her heart for weird multi-sport events like indoor triathlon and aquabike. She also teaches indoor cycling.

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  • https://mx24.co.za Reinhardt Scholtz

    Nice article. Thanks for sharing the interview with Adam, which is very inspirational and motivating.
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